Home Discussion Forum Can anyone explain the Theory of relativity by Albert Einstein in simple...

Can anyone explain the Theory of relativity by Albert Einstein in simple english?

Which theory?
Einstein gave us the Special Theory of Relativity and
the General Theory of Relativity. ”
Both please.
bty96310 – I dont fully understand that comment. Can anyone break it down to its relevent point?


  1. energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared.
    i.e mass can be converted to energy and energy to mass

  2. It is the theory that states that the longer your relatives are near you, the more obnoxious they become. Relatively speaking, of course.

  3. E=MC2*
    The E stands for energy.
    The M stands for mass.
    The C2* stands for the speed of light squared or the speed of light multiplied by itself.
    In other words energy is mass times the speed of light squared.
    *the 2 is supposed to be small.

  4. E=mc2 Energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared. The heavier the object the greater its potential energy. As speed increases so does energy. As the speed of light is constant the energy divided by its mass is always constant.
    Basically I have no idea.

  5. Found this on the net. I’d love to say I wrote it but the truth is I don’t undersatnd it. But I don’t think you’ll get a more simple explaination than this:
    October 11, 2005 — Executive Briefing: Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Relativity is all about how light behaves, and from that some truth is differentiated from some fiction. Light’s behavior is particularly at issue because the cosmos is ever expanding… some of the very distant galaxies are receding from us at near light speed – we find that true while looking in any direction.
    Getting right into it, if a fleet (“The Fleet”) of spacecraft left Earth and sped away at a significant fraction of lightspeed, then how would light (and/or radio, EM) signals behave between us and them? and how would such signals behave among The Fleet members themselves?
    Would a radio signal sent from Earth take extra time to reach The Fleet, because it is receding away? Yet the reverse is not true?? ie. signals from The Fleet will transit only the predetermined distance through Earth’s fixed coordinate system? Who is actually receding from whom?? Does it depend on how Earth is moving with respect to a higher coordinate system, some fixed master coordinate system?
    In a word, no, none of that is true. OK, it’s all true, relatively true. What’s absolutely true is the denial of any master cosmic framework serving as medium for electromagnetic signal transmissions: EM signals find their own way about, somehow transcendent of mortal ciphering. It’s uncanny; we don’t know the how but we know the how much. We realize now that light behaves relativistically, which means that every clock and every ruler in the world must cede something to accommodate the feat.
    In the stated scenario, The Fleet astronauts experience one thing while us Earthbound folk experience something altogether different, something that seems contradictory. By all reckoning, the astronauts witness their Fleet’s signals to be moving at fixed lightspeed with respect to The Fleet’s native 3D coordinate system – and by native is meant simply, “that x-y-z frame with respect to which The Fleet is stock still in space.” Those astronauts… they witness their outgoing signals as requiring extra time to “catch up” to the receding Earth, yet incoming Earth signals need only travel the predetermined distance from their release point. And all the calculations work out… no, there is no incompetence.
    And wouldn’t you know? Earthlings can make the very same claim. By all reckoning, they witness EM signals behaving as if Earth’s native 3D coordinate system is boss. Their outgoing signals require extra time to catch up to the receding space Fleet, yet incoming Fleet signals need only travel the predetermined distance from their release point.
    And this relativity carries over to within The Fleet itself: its member craft are able to swap messages amongst themselves, with only their fixed separation distance dictating the transmission delay. Light and radio signals don’t take longer to transit in one particular direction because of The Fleet’s supposed motion “through space” – that element is negated entirely.
    And now the final concluding point. Isn’t it great that light behaves this way? especially considering that many millions of distant galaxies are flying away from us at tremendous speeds. If light simply moved relative to Earth, or relative to some master cosmic coordinate system (with respect to which Earth is fairly still), then how could those (hypothetical) zillions of aliens who populate those myriad distant galaxies ever live, eh?? they couldn’t. They would live in a giant ever-distorted world, where a simple twisting of the neck would mean drastic changes in their view of the surroundings – all hot and blue-shifted in one direction, pale and red-shifted in the other. They would be burned alive by a single candle flame if its radiations were coming from the wrong side.

  6. Monkey Boy and Squishy gave you what is probably the best-known conclusion that can be drawn from Special Relativity, which basically said that every observer will measure the speed of light to be the same, regardless of his or her own *constant* speed and direction. What does change from observer to observer is time and distance. Einstein published this theory in 1905.
    His greatest contribution to science, however, was the theory of General Relativity. GR took him ten more years to develop, mostly because the mathematics were so difficult. It extended relativity to “non-inertial” (accelerating) frames of reference, including free-fall under the influence of gravity. In fact, it was essentially a theory of gravity, in which he showed that gravity is not a force, rather a distortion of spacetime under the influence of mass. This completely revolutionized our understanding of the universe.
    The existence of black holes was predicted by GR, and the Big Bang Theory was “simply” an extension of GR.

  7. Can’t remember his exact wording… “Put your hand on a hot pan and minutes can seem like hours, put your hand on a hot woman and hours can seem like minutes.”

  8. There are much maths and poor results in general theory, so don’t jam your head with this brain twister.
    The special theory states that any moving object in any coordinate system cannot exceed the speed of light c=300000km/s and could be understood, if you consider Minkowsky space — a very nifty and perceivable means. You must know that sqrt(-1)=i and easily manipulate with imaginary numbers. more datails?

  9. The simple answer? He reckoned that the faster you went, the heavier you got.
    His theory is debunked a little by all the fat people out there, let’s face it – they’re not that fast!

  10. Einstien had 2 theories concerning relativity. First, special relativity which deals with how particles and waves behave at or near the speed of light. Central to special relativity is the idea that the speed of light is a constant and no matter what frame of reference you are in when you measure it, the value is still the speed of light. If a space ship travelling toward you at half the speed of light shines a light at you, you will see the light approach at the speed of light, not one and one half the speed of light. Strange eh? Some things that fell out of special relativity – mass increases as you get closer to the speed of light, so a spaceship would get heavier and heavier as it neared the speed of light. In fact, it could never reach the speed of light becuase as it gets heavier, it takes more and more energy to accelerate and the amount of energy needed to get that last bit of speed is infinite. So you can get close to but never reach the speed of light. This is true for objects with non-zero rest mass, light has zero rest mass. Time contracts or moves more slowly as you near the speed of light and length contracts. As you move closer to the speed of light, you get thinner in the direction of motion. This is not just an apparent shrinkage, it is real.
    Einstien later expanded special realtivity to include gravity’s affect on time-space. Some of the ideas that came out of this is gravity slows down time – the stronger the gravitational field you are in, the slower time goes by and the fact that mass bends or curves space.
    Gravitational waves were also predicted by special relativity.
    Many of Einstiens predictions have been exprerimentally proven. Scientists are still trying to prove/disprove gravitational waves. The math behind relativity is extremely complex.

  11. Someone else asked exactly this the other day, and I did my best then to provide the highlights. I’ll try again for you now.
    Firstly, it’s important to understand that relativity is such an incredibly complicated subject, that the likes of you and me (lay people) would find it virtually impossible to comprehend entirely. But we can understand the effects it has on the universe rather than why it has those effects.
    OK. As you know there are 2 theories, special and general. Special came first, and changed the way the universe and time were viewed by scientists, and general explained, amongst other things, how and why gravity exists.
    Before Special Relativity, it was assumed that time was an unchanging component, that it ticked steadily onwards at the same rate and speed, regardless of the circumstances. That, if I stayed on earth and you zoomed into space in a space ship our watches would read the same time at every stage. But Einstein’s famous theory showed this wasn’t true.
    We each of us occupy our own, individual “frame of reference”, and it is impossible to know who is at rest and who is moving at any given moment. If we were both floating about in space, we couldn’t know if it were me staying still, and you flying around about or vice versa. The only thing we could ever agree on is that for both of us, regardless of our movements, the speed of light flows at the same rate.
    Let’s say you’re in a car travelling at 20 mph with your headlights on. If you chuck a ball out of the window at the rate of 10mph, then we can agree that the true velocity of that ball is 30 mph, as the car has already contributed 20mph of speed. But, weirdly, the rate at which the light from the headlights travels does not behave in the same way. It will ALWAYS travel at 186,000mps regardless of the movements of the car – you do not add on the 20mph the car is travelling. And when the car comes to a halt, it will still continue on at the same rate.
    This is where it really starts getting complicated. Einstein theorised that, if the speed of light does not change, then something else must do. Basic maths show us that speed = distance covered divided by time. So, it’s time that changes, but ONLY relative to an observer. The faster an object travels, the more time would appear to slow down for it, and the object will appear to shrink in the direction it is moving.
    It’s possible I may have lost you here (this is the moment I always tend to get a bit stuck) so try and envisage this analogy. I am sitting on a train platform, and you are on a train that is speeding through the station at a velocity close to the speed of light. As you zip past me I can look through the windows (in reality, not possible, but just suppose!) and see that the clock on the wall of the train appears to be running slower than I think it should do. The movements of the passengers would appear sluggish and slow, and if I could hear you speak your voice would sound slurred. The train itself would also appear to be shorter in length than it was before the journey started. But – and this is truly bizarre – from your perspective, nothing would seem amiss. Time would be ticking on at the same rate it always has for you and your movements would be perfectly normal. But if you looked out of the window at ME, you would see that it was MY watch running slower, MY voice that was slurred. It’s all relative, hence the name.
    Most people will say that relativity is E=MC 2. That’s just a part of it, not the whole theory encapsulated. It shows that energy and matter are two forms of the same thing, and that the faster an object of matter travels the more energy it needs to convert in order to stay in motion. In a nutshell, even the smallest little bit of matter has the most enormous amount of energy bound up in it. You, for example, have enough energy with in you to explode with the force of 30 Hiroshima bombs.
    General theory – again cutting a very long story short – shows that time and space together form a dimension called space-time. Space-time can be warped by objects of matter, only really observable with large objects like planets. A planet will cause a kind of dip in space time (bit like a cannon ball sitting on on a stretched rubber sheet) and other nearby objects will fall into that dip. This is gravity. It’s not really a kind of magnetism as people suppose, but is actually an effect of the warping of space-time.
    I’m sorry I’ve gone on at such length – but I hope I’ve helped you reach some kind of understanding. E-mail me if you want to ask anything!

  12. Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity:
    E = M C2(Squared not x2)
    Energy = Mass x The speed of light in a vacuum
    Basically Einstein was on a fast train, he noticed his watch was SLIGHTLY different to Big Ben when he passed it, so what it means is, if you’re speed is great enough the gravity will have a effect which causes time to go slightly faster but you will not notice because you’re smack bang right in the middle of the effect, so in other words you’ll age faster in a train than walking.

  13. OK, here goes. Apologies if this is long, but hey, we are talking about a tricky subject! LOL
    I only have a very basic understanding of the “Specific Theory”, but for what it’s worth here goes…
    First, as others have mentioned, the speed of light is constant. That means, whenever you look at light, as far as you are concerned it is *always* travelling at light speed.
    If you had a gun that fired bullets at, say, 2000m/s and you fired it forwards from an aircraft that was doing 500m/s, then relative to you, the bullet will move away at 2000m/s, but relative to someone you just flew passed, standing still on the ground, the bullet would move away from them at 2500 m/s (bullet speed + aircraft speed)
    Light doesn’t work like this. As someone mentioned above, if you were in a spaceship doing half light speed and you turned on a torch (facing forward), a person you just flew passed would *not* see the light from the torch moving off at one and a half times the speed of light. (Speed of spaceship + speed of the light from the torch.) “Relative” to them, the light from the torch would be doing *only* light speed. So it would be going half light speed faster than the spaceship and therefore moving away from the spaceship at half light speed.
    The thing is, because the speed of light is constant, relative to *you* the light *would* be moving away at light speed!
    So, we have a paradox. How can both you *and* the bystander both see the light travelling at light speed. How do we solve this paradox? Easy! We say that time must be travelling more slowly for you. So every second for the bystander is only half a second for you.
    Follow that?
    Just in case you didn’t, let’s try another example. This is a bit tricky without diagrams, but let’s give it a go…
    For the purpose of this example, we have to imagine that light speed is slow enough for us to see it moving, ok?
    Imagine a clock. A light clock. It works by shooting a pulse of light from its top, down to a mirror at the bottom that reflects it back up to a light receiver at the top. That down-up is one “unit” of time.
    Now, there are two of these clocks. One is with you on a train; the other is with our bystander sitting on the platform.
    The bystander sees his clock “ticking” away; down-up, down-up, down-up. Then he sees your train go passed and he can now see your clock. But the light from your clock *isn’t* going down-up, because the train is moving. If the light is going to hit the mirror on the way down, it’s also going to have to go sideways, because the clock is going sideways, because the clock is on the train. If the light has to go sideways as well as down, then the distance it has to travel is going to be longer. But the speed of light is constant, so it’s going to take more time to cover that longer distance. So, as far as our bystander is concerned, your clock is ticking slower than his.
    Of course, as far as you are concerned, your clock is ticking away at normal speed, because time is travelling more slowly for you.
    Did you follow all that?
    So there you have it. Time travels more slowly for a moving clock.
    Now, do you want to hear the *really* interesting bit?
    It’s true and it’s been proved!
    Radioactive particles decay and the rate at which they decay is constant – so constant that the most accurate clocks in the world are based upon the decay of radioactive material – Atomic clocks.
    Scientists selected a particular radioactive material that is raining down on the Earth from space. They knew the rate of decay of these particles, so they could predict exactly how many would decay in any given time period.
    To keep the maths simple, let’s say they found that in one second 10% would decay.
    So, they went up in an aircraft with a detector and measured how many particles hit the detector per minute. Let’s say it was 100 per minute on average.
    Now, they knew how fast the particles travelled, and they knew their altitude, so they worked out that the particles would take one second to get from that altitude to ground level (again keeping the maths simple).
    So, they knew that the particles take one second to travel from that altitude to ground level and they knew that 10% of the particles would decay in that one second. So, if there were 100 per minute on average at altitude, then there should be 90 (10% less) on average at ground level.
    But when they tested it, they found that there were 99 on average per minute! Why? Because the particles were travelling at almost the speed of light, so time was travelling more slowly for them, so less were decaying!
    Interesting stuff, huh?

  14. Albert Einstein could, but he’s dead.
    I don’t think just anyone could. There are a lot of stupid people out there.
    RYQ before you post.


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